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There will always be a moon over Marin?
March 29, 2010 11:15 PM   Subscribe

I've always wondered about the lyrics to the Dead Kennedys' song "Moon Over Marin". It seems like one would have had to have lived in California in the late 70s-early 80s to get all the references in the song, so I'm hoping someone who did can explain them.

Particularly: Was the area of Marin particularly known for pollution? Why Marin? And what is the "uniform with two white stripes" supposed to be? Why is the protagonist exercising in a fenced-off area on a beach? I suspect this all made sense to the intended audience (nobody in punk rock back then thought people would be listening to this stuff for this long and this far outside their local scenes).
posted by DecemberBoy to Media & Arts (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
I've looked around, but all I can find is Wikipedia claiming that "Marin was particularly known for pollution", and a bunch of implausible crap on SongMeanings.
posted by DecemberBoy at 11:16 PM on March 29, 2010


This is also not an answer ... but it is a version of the song in which the lyrics can be heard very clearly.
posted by philip-random at 12:33 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the late 70s I went to so many Dead Kennedy concerts that Jello would recognize me on the bus, and I'm not aware of Marin having any special significance, other than say Great Neck would to New Yorkers: you don't belong here, and we are going to get together with our neighbors and town councils to block access to the beach, so that your only legal way in is to walk 5 miles between the low and high tide marks.

I think the point is that these rich people are hoarding the public shoreline, but they ruined it by polluting it anyway. I'm not aware of any actual pollution incidents around then, but the idea is that these greedy pigs will pollute it eventually, no matter what. Because the only way they could get rich enough to try to block beach access is by being corporate criminals.
posted by StickyCarpet at 12:44 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


  • two white stripes
  • oil spill.

  • posted by rhizome at 1:12 AM on March 30, 2010


    Many of the beaches of California are either privately-owned and fenced off or are public but illegally fenced off by wealthy people with nearby houses who have no reason to expect that the law against this will be enforced. This infuriates a lot of people who feel that they ought to be able to go to beaches without owning multi-million dollar homes.
    posted by Pope Guilty at 3:11 AM on March 30, 2010


    The song is about an imagined future. "A crowded future fills my eyes" he's imagining what it could be like if we don't shape up.

    Awesome song. East Bay Ray is incredible on that tune.
    posted by Ironmouth at 5:49 AM on March 30, 2010


    Here's the actual lyric:

    "The crowded future stings my eyes/I still find time to exercise." He's imagining the bad future and warning us what awaits if we don't fix it. The lyrics to this song are so good its scary--the irony that he has to take a bath after being on the beach--and the observation that we can't fuck up the moon, "there will always be a moon over Marin" which will be the only pristine fact about Marin if we don't stop polluting.

    Greatest environmental song ever.
    posted by Ironmouth at 6:18 AM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]


    There's a superb cover of this song by Matthew Good on his Hospital Music CD. Oh so highly recommended.
    posted by 2oh1 at 12:50 PM on March 30, 2010


    Yeah, it's arguably the greatest Dead Kennedys song, nice melody, subtle lyrics by their standards. Interestingly (maybe), California law says any part of the beach that's covered by the ocean during high tide cannot be private, so during low tide you can walk along the shoreline in Malibu or Marin and stand between the private beaches and the ocean.

    Another great cover.
    posted by Bookhouse at 1:09 PM on March 30, 2010


    California law says any part of the beach that's covered by the ocean during high tide cannot be private,

    This is generally standard throught the country, actually.
    posted by Ironmouth at 1:42 PM on March 30, 2010


    California law says any part of the beach that's covered by the ocean during high tide cannot be private,

    The other end of that legal spectrum is interesting, too. I remember hearing that anyplace more than 36 inches deep at low tide is open for navigation, and that could take your kayak pretty far inland on otherwise private property.
    posted by StickyCarpet at 11:11 PM on March 30, 2010


    Regarding the "fenced off" comment, many years later in Glen Cove, Long Island, similar things were happening, and the town actually made a box of cyclone fence on the beach, that did not extend to the water, and you had to park on a walled street to walk to the cage.
    posted by StickyCarpet at 11:22 PM on March 30, 2010


    I get that it's an imagined future where everything is polluted to shit, etc., but I was wondering specifically about the fenced-off beaches and why this imagined future is happening specifically in Marin, CA. I didn't even know you could own fenced-off areas of beach, having grown up on the Third Coast and only having been to beaches in Galveston, Port Aransas, etc.
    posted by DecemberBoy at 12:10 AM on April 1, 2010


    Marin was a synecdoche for many crunchy/yuppie Northern California stereotypes in existence at the time. See the movie "Serial" for probably the best pop-culture exposition of what Jello was singing about.
    posted by rhizome at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2010


    I get that it's an imagined future where everything is polluted to shit, etc., but I was wondering specifically about the fenced-off beaches and why this imagined future is happening specifically in Marin, CA. I didn't even know you could own fenced-off areas of beach, having grown up on the Third Coast and only having been to beaches in Galveston, Port Aransas, etc.

    I think he's talking about how overcrowded it is and you only get a small part of the beach now.
    posted by Ironmouth at 7:37 AM on April 2, 2010


    Let me also thank you--I'm now working up my own cover due to this question--been sorta thinking about it for years.
    posted by Ironmouth at 7:38 AM on April 2, 2010




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